While most of San Diego Comic-Con is family friendly, it does often venture into the more macabre matters from new and upcoming horror movies and TV.
This year, some of TV’s most popular shows are also terror-filled: NBC’s “Hannibal,” A&E’s “Bates Motel,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful.” And coming soon to the big screen, a haunted house story called “Crimson Peak” from Guillermo del Toro.
The Walking Dead
“The Walking Dead” continues to draw millions of viewers with each new episode. Fans are eagerly awaiting its fifth season to debut in October. And while thousands poured into Hall H to see the show’s cast, I was sadly not one of them, covering other panels at that time. But for everyone who couldn’t make it into the big presentation, “The Walking Dead” still had a fun presence on the show floor with a Terminus-inspired booth that featured “live” zombies, a photo op, and a brief walk-through experience.
Video: The Walking Dead Terminus booth walkthrough with zombies at San Diego Comic-Con 2014
Also taking place once again outside SDCC was The Walking Dead Escape at Petco Park. Check back to Outside the Magic soon for a look at this year’s walker-infested course.
NBC’s award-winning TV series “Hannibal” brought a big panel to Ballroom 20. Though the show’s leading stars couldn’t make it (but did appear via video), the discussion was no less interesting and fun, featuring executive producer/creator Bryan Fuller, executive producer/writer Steven Lightfoot, director David Slade, executive producer Martha DeLaurentiis, and stars Caroline Dhavernas (Dr. Alana Bloom), Scott Thompson, and Aaron Abrams (Special Agents Jimmy Price and Brian Zeller) along with a surprise appearance by Raul Esparza (Frederick Chilton). It was moderated by Jonathan Ross.
Lots of prizes were handed out with each audience member also receiving a preview CD of the upcoming “Hannibal” soundtrack release.
Video: FULL Hannibal NBC panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014
Hannibal panel slideshow:
Approaching its third season, “Bates Motel” returned to SDCC for a glimpse at the horrors ahead – but mostly a lot of laughs. Its panel featured executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin along with stars Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates), Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates), Olivia Cooke (Emma), and Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero) – plus a surprise appearance by Kenny Johnson, whose role as Caleb was announced to become a series regular.
Video: FULL Bates Motel A&E panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014
Though recording of the video clips shown during the panel is prohibited, A&E did release the full hilarious “casting” video online:
On the show floor, “Bates Motel” also had a fun and surprisingly hidden photo opportunity. Tucked away down one of the aisles off the main paths was an opportunity to step inside Norman’s taxidermy office / basement and pose for a particularly creepy picture.
“Bates Motel” returns to A&E in 2015.
Bates Motel panel slideshow:
Though Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” is a relatively new show, its panel of stars drew a huge crowd eager to know more about the intriguing series. Creator and showrunner John Logan was joined by stars Josh Hartnett (Ethan Chandler), Reeve Carney (Dorian Gray), and Harry Treadaway (Victor Frankenstein), moderated by Aisha Tyler.
Video: FULL Penny Dreadful panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014
The Q&A session even included one of those stereotypical Comic-Con fangirl moments as one attendee broke down into nervous tears while asking a question to Josh Hartnett. Everyone in the audience received a small set of tarot cards on the way out while the Entertainment Earth booth was selling a complete set along with new action figures.
Penny Dreadful panel slideshow:
For horror fans looking for more to experience first-hand, the Legendary Pictures booth featured a walk-through handcrafted by Guillermo del Toro himself in promotion of the upcoming film “Crimson Peak.” The exhibit placed attendees inside what felt like a haunted house, designed in the look of one of the sets of the movie, featuring props, costumes, and an atmospheric soundscape designed by Academy Award Winner Randy Thom.
Video: Crimson Peak experience walkthrough from Guillermo del Toro at San Diego Comic-Con 2014
There weren’t any big scares inside, but the atmosphere definitely was similar to a haunted attraction.
Legendary’s booth also featured a VR “Pacific Rim” experience. Check back to Outside the Magic soon for more on that.
The popular TV show “American Horror Story” did have a panel as well, but it was placed inside a room far too small to hold the thousands of attendees trying to get inside. Many had lined up several hours in advance and most were denied entrance (myself included). Perhaps next year the show will return with a bigger room.
Also showing off some horror fun at SDCC was FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow,” both with a panel discussion as well as an offsite experience. Check back soon for more about that.
MTV brought its younger audience a taste of horror as well with a lively “Teen Wolf” panel that had girls screaming for its hunky stars throughout.
Video: FULL Teen Wolf panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014
(Full disclosure: The only reason I sat through the “Teen Wolf” panel was to get a better seat for “Hannibal” immediately after.)